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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Churched Out

Lately it seems that everyone I talk to is tired of church. Some are actively involved- teaching Sunday School, attending Bible Studies, even leading worship. Others have given up church altogether, opting instead for isolated and lonely personal ministries outside any organized body of believers.

These people are not where they need to be, but not because they are in sin. They aren't rebellious or angry. They are discouraged because the church as they know it looks nothing like the community of faith that we read about in the scriptures.

Churches are all about programs, events, and activities. You're a twenty-something married couple? Thirty and single? We have a program for you. Mothers of Preschoolers. Parents of Teens. Businessmen breakfasts, Scrapbooking, Golf, Church-league softball. The more you do, the holier you are. If we haven't seen you in a while, we question your spiritual maturity.

Church leaders desperate to grow their congregations don't know the people already in the pews. The gospel has become an invitation to church, and discipleship an altar-call. Why doesn't anyone ever say, "Wow, they must be doing something wrong for God to be cursing them with all those people in attendance."?

The result of the programs- and numbers-focus is a growing number of people who are churched-out. These are faithful people who have taught the Bible studies, led the mission trips, given their money, and visited the visitors. They know what goes into each big campaign (and how little comes out), and they don't have it in them to "put-on" another one. Now they are finished. Many drop out altogether because they don't see an alternative.

Maybe your mega-church should start a program for them.


Alan Knox said...

Good post! A church program for people who don't want church programs... interesting concept. :)


platformshoes said...

Great post. Before coming overseas we were tired of the church. Our church does small groups so Sunday morning is nothing more than a few shallow quick greetings while dropping off the kids, then a few songs, a sermon that is usually aimed at new believers and then a few more shallow greetings on the way out.

It just seems boring now. Everyone is trying to fix the outside appearances, the music, the style of the message, the dress. We drop denominational names, add Starbucks coffee and think we've fixed the problem. As usual we address surface issues and neglect the deeper issues of defining what the church is.

Our small group was church, it was where the body used their gifts and it was there that we saw church as a living active organism.
Those were the good times....

Anonymous said...

This may be off the wall somewhat, but I've been thinking....if we are changing the music, trying to meet folks at their point of needs with all these programs, and everyone is all so busy in church....why are baptisms down for 2 years in a row?

Where are the people that are coming to know God in a personal way?

The big churches aren't necessarily doing it better...they just seem to be dragging folks away from smaller congregations. Maybe because in a big church it's a little easier to just sit in the pew. (Sort of like dropping out altogether, but you're still a warm body and can tell your mom...yes, I went to church!)

Maybe we aren't looking at the right numbers?? Maybe we shouldn't be counting??

Good post.

Another m

Anonymous said...

I too am tired of church... and I am glad to be doing something new...

yet another m

knnuki said...

Is it just me, or does it show a huge lack of creativity/imagination/entrepreneurial spirit that all we can think to do is pile program upon program, activity upon activity? What if we were to actually be Christ in our local situations, among our neighbours and workmates, and were on the watch for others who might want to do the same? What if we actually released one another to live the gospel where we are, even if that didn't involve creating a service, an activity or a program and pressuring others to populate it?081761impact


Yes I have to agree as one trying to plant a "church" in W Europe among english speakers. Some of our contacts are ex Church goers so the challenge is for us to build a faith community without loading folk down with programmes. Some are angry with the institution and the holy attitude of some christians. It's time to build relationships with each other and mix it up with folk who don't know Jesus so that they see us IN GOD'S WORLD not just in Church.

Alycelee said...

I relate!
I've also become 'blogged out.'
I've noticed how my first desire to blog came as a result of being inspired and passionate about God.
Perhaps it's God 'outing us' bringing us back to our first love.

Carl Grizovic Jr. said...

I would disagree and say that to not be involved with the local church is sin.

stepchild said...

Thanks for your comment. I think a lot of this has to do with your definition and understanding of "the local church" that you refer to.

I agree that a believer has got to be in fellowship, but a lot of the folks I'm referring to here don't see any alternatives to a consumerist, modernist, business-model "church." They are starving for a more genuine and fulfilling (and biblical) expression of church.

I'm trying to draw attention to the people who have to decide between the sin of staying in a broken and worldy system, and, as you point out, the sin of leaving it.

platformshoes said...

I agree with stepchild. The issue is what the definition of church is. In most of the world the church is a small group, meeting in a home, possibly with no formal leadership. In the states is it a sin to leave FBC and meet weekly with a group in a home? The first church resembled a house church more than the American church.
There are a host of people longing for an authentic representation of the church. I'm one of those...whether it's big with a building....or meeting in my living room.

Carl Grizovic Jr. said...

I tried to leave another comment. Peace

Carl Grizovic Jr. said...

Hey guys, I tried to leave a comment a week ago but for some reason it did not post. Nonetheless, though I forget what I wrote I can write again I suppose. Heb 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account...I'm not sure how you would have a church w/o leaders nor how you would have a church operating correctly w/o obedience and submission to leaders. Paul told Titus in 1:5 to appoint elders in every city. Why would elders be needed if home churches were not supposed to have them? Why would elders be needed for the early church but Individualistic America is above and beyond that?

platformshoes said...

I agree that churches need to have leadership. The question isn't whether they have leadership but whether they will truly engage society or just embrace programs? Will their focus be on campus or off-campus?

People aren't weary of leadership they're weary of pre-boxed programs and entertainment.
The interesting thing is that overseas these things aren't issues. Churches exist without buildings and prgrams. They're groups that worship, study and be the body together. They're sometimes messy and fluid but they're quite refreshing.